Friday, 23 August 2013

Blackberry, Lavender and Orange Blossom Jam


Blackberry, Lavender and Orange Blossom Jam

Following a recent blackberry foraging expedition I returned with a bountiful supply of beautiful wild blackberries. They are in season at the moment and abundant in both rural and urban areas.  What better way to use your blackberries than in a fragrant and fresh jam flavoured with lavender and orange blossom water?  

I love blackberry picking, there is something very relaxing about it...forgetting the world around you and stilling your mind with the simple task of picking the ripest berries.   

The combination of blackberries with lavender and orange blossom water is a lovely taste of Summer - full of fresh, floral and herbal flavours. Lavender has been used in cooking for centuries and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes.  Lavender has a similar astringent quality to rosemary.  Orange flower water is one of my favourites - soft, floral and lightly perfumed - a good contrast with the sharp lavender and blackberries.  I love floral flavours in cooking, but don't over do it, or you will end up with 'soapy' rather than fragrant.  Check out my rhubarb, rose and vanilla jam for another floral, fruity jam.  

You can buy edible/culinary lavender from supermarkets or online. Be sure to use lavender that is suitable for culinary use and from a source that you know has not been chemically sprayed.  

Happy jam making!  My blackberry, lavender and orange blossom jam is great served simply on toast but I also found it worked really well alongside some lovely ripe brie. Your thoughts and comments are always much appreciated.  Do give this recipe a try and let me know how you get on.  I look forward to hearing from you and sharing your jam making stories and recipes.  

Blackberry, Lavender and Orange Blossom Jam

recipe by:  chip butties and noodle soup

preparation time:  5 minutes
cooking time:  15-20 minutes 

ingredients:

1kg blackberries*
1kg sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 pinch salt
3-4 tbs orange blossom/orange flower water

*Be careful not to pick any blackberries from areas that have been sprayed with nasty weedkillers or chemicals.  If in doubt you can always get blackberries from your local market. 

method:
  1. gently wash your blackberries being careful not to bruise them too much, or the colour and flavour will seep out
  2. put a couple of saucers in the freezer for testing the jam setting point later. 
  3. add your blackberries to a large pan with the salt, orange blossom water, lavender, lemon zest and juice and bring gently to the boil for about 5 minutes - until the blackberries have slightly softened and started to release their juice.  
  4. add your sugar and stir gently until it's fully dissolved.
  5. bring to the boil for 10 minutes, skimming off any 'scum' that rises to the surface.
  6. test the setting point of the jam by placing a teaspoon of the jam onto a cold saucer.  Leave 30 seconds, and if the jam 'wrinkles' when you push your finger across it the setting point has been reached.  If not, bring the jam back to the boil and test after another 2 minutes.  Repeat this test until the setting point has been reached. 
  7. remove from the heat and pour the jam carefully into sterilised jars (check out how to do this here) and seal immediately.
  8. store in a cool dark place until you are ready to use.  Once opened store in the fridge.  


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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Prune and Almond Cake





"Sweet with a deep taste and a sticky chewy texture, prunes are not only fun to eat but they are also highly nutritious."  source: The world's healthiest foods.com
Now with a statement like that who am I to argue?  Prunes are making a comeback apparently and why not?  I never thought they went away myself...  Check out this Guardian article to read more about the current "prune boom".  

Prunes and almonds are a perfect combination in my opinion and have long been used together in the classic French prune and almond tart. However I was looking to combine the prunes and almonds in a lovely, buttery cake. Looking for a base recipe that was heavy on the almonds I came across Barney Desmazery's raspberry bakewell cake.  I adapted his recipe to include prunes and extra almond essence as I wanted to highlight the almondy flavour.  I also added some citrus zest for a bit of extra zing.  
For me almond is a flavour from childhood that I can always remember loving.  I remember it in Battenberg cake, and in marzipan covered fruitcakes.  I always thought the marzipan was the best bit.  Now I'm older I get my almond fix in more "sophisticated" ways - through occasional sups of amaretto liqueur and marzipan covered in bitter, dark chocolate - delicious!  

This recipe produces a buttery, moist, almondy cake with sticky sweet prunes. Perfect with a big cup of tea, but would also be good served straight from the oven with a scoop or two of ice cream as a pudding.  

The prunes I used were semi-dried so quite soft already, but if you are using dried prunes an extra soaking in either tea or a liqueur would do no harm; perhaps some kirsch or amaretto if you have some spare...

Thanks for stopping by, your thoughts and comments are always much appreciated.  Do give this recipe a try and let me know how you get on. I would love to know about your favourite childhood flavours and food memories.    


Prune and Almond Cake

recipe adapted from: Barney Desmazery's raspberry bakewell cake

preparation time:  less than 10 minutes

cooking time:  45-50 minutes

ingredients:

140g ground almonds
140g softened butter 
140g caster sugar
140g self-raising flour
2 eggs
2 tsp almond extract
zest of lemon/orange
pinch salt
250g prunes - sliced in half
icing sugar, to serve
method:
  1. preheat your oven to 180C, grease and line a 20cm cake tin
  2. add all your ingredients (except the prunes) to a food processor and whizz for a few minutes until well combined.  You can also use an electric hand whisk or do it by hand - it will just take a bit longer.
  3. add half your mixture to your cake tin, followed by your prunes, and finish with the other half of the cake mix on top.
  4. bake for 45-50 minutes - the cake is done when it is golden, risen and a skewer comes out clean.
  5. leave for a few minutes before removing from the tin and either serve immediately with a few scoops of ice cream, or leave to cool and sprinkle with icing sugar before serving. 


If you would like to try another of my recipes using prunes check out my:

Gateau de Semoule with Caramel and Armagnac Prunes




I have entered this recipe into Javelin Warrior's Made with Love Mondays over at Cookin w/ Luv

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Sunday, 18 August 2013

Spicy Coconut Curry Mussels



Spicy coconut curry mussels

Mussels are one of my favourite ingredients and they are so good for you too - packed with minerals and nutrients - including zinc, selenium and vitamin B12.  Check this article out for more information about the health benefits of mussels and why they are good for us.  

Mussels are really versatile and work with a variety of diverse flavours, from a simple moules marinieres, to a sauce flavoured with Roquefort cheese - a particular favourite I discovered on a recent trip to France. However I was in the mood for a dish with some curry spice and coconut so came up with this recipe for spicy coconut curry mussels.  This recipe has a gentle heat from the curry powder and chillies and the addition of coconut milk creates a lovely creamy curry sauce - perfect for mopping up with crusty bread and chips.  An ice cold beer on the side would be great too!  

A quick and easy recipe for mussels - my spicy version of moules-frites - ready in less than 10 minutes.


Spicy Coconut Curry Mussels 

serves:  2 

recipe author:  chip butties and noodle soup

preparation time:  5-10 minutes
cooking time:  less than 10 minutes

ingredients:

1 kg mussels (I got mine from Exmouth Mussel Company from Abel and Cole
1 onion - finely chopped
2 cloves garlic - crushed
250ml coconut milk
1 level tbs curry powder (I used Chief brand which contains coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, salt, fennel and chillies)
1-2 fresh chillies - finely chopped
2 tbs chopped coriander 
wedge of lime to serve
2 tbs vegetable oil

method:
  1. prepare you mussels by washing rigorously in cold running water, discard any that remain open and do not shut when given a sharp tap. Remove the 'beard' if present by giving it a gentle tug which should be enough for it to come away from the mussel.  
  2. heat your oil in a pan before adding the onion and garlic - fry for a few minutes until softened
  3. add the curry powder to the onions and fry off for about 1 minute before adding the coconut milk
  4. add your cleaned mussels, stir around, then put the lid on to allow the mussels to steam for a few minutes
  5. the mussels are done when they are all opened - this should take about 3-4 minutes.  Discard any mussels that are broken or unopened. 
  6. add your chopped chilli and coriander to the mussels and serve in large bowls with lime wedges, a crispy bowl of frites/chips and big chunks of crusty bread to mop up the spicy juice. 
I hope you give this recipe a try.  Please do leave a comment and let me know how you get on and any favourite ways you have of cooking mussels.  









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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Instant Spiced Pickles (...well 15 minute pickles!)




I am a little bit in love with this recipe for Instant Homemade Pickles by Abel and Cole.  There is a time and a place for long and slow cooking but there is also occasionally the need for a quick and instant recipe.  This is one of those times - when all that will do is a pickle. You may of course not have those times and only occasionally fancy a pickle - either way this is a great recipe which I hope you try out and enjoy as much as I do. This recipe (adapted from Abel and Cole) creates a fresh, crunchy pickle full of flavour. They are on the sweet side of sour which I like with pickles but still have a satisfying tang and sourness from the vinegar.

Now being of Polish descent I think I am genetically programmed to crave pickles on a regular basis so you may think I am biased. But these are ready in 15 minutes, eaten in about the same time and utterly delicious - a new favourite! My Instant Spiced Pickles is my take on Abel and Cole's recipe and I can't wait to try it again.  

I added a couple of thinly sliced carrots and an onion to my version inspired by tangy escabeche recipes.  I also had an inkling that a bit of garlic and chilli would do no harm to this recipe, so threw them into the mix too.  As readers of my blog will know I am a big spice fan - and love exploring new flavour combinations.  The addition of coriander and cardamon adds a lovely citrus and fragrant warmth to the finished recipe. Cucumber with mint is a perfect match,  so the addition of this herb was an easy choice, but fresh coriander would also have been good here.  I added a couple of hot red chillies which I pierced to let the spiciness infuse quickly. 


Do feel free to play around with your flavours and ingredients - as long as you keep your ratios of sugar and vinegar the same you should still create a lovely 15 minute pickle. I think for my next attempt I will make a courgette pickle - heavy on the dill, and maybe with a smidge of lemon zest...  


I served these alongside some pâté tartines for an easy starter, but also had them at lunchtime with cheese and breakfast the next day with a bit of ham on wholemeal toast....then they ran out and I was a little sad. But in 15 minutes you can be back to where you were before they ran out - yay and happy happy joy joy! 

Do please let me know how you get on and what different flavour combinations you try out. 


Instant Spiced Pickles (...well 15 minute pickles!) 

preparation time:  5 minutes
+ 15 minutes waiting/pickling time 

ingredients: 


1 cucumber - thinly sliced 

2 carrots - thinly sliced
1 onion - thinly sliced
1 heaped tbs coriander seeds
4 cardamon pods - (crushed to release the flavour) 
2-3 sprigs fresh mint

1 clove of garlic
1-2 chilli peppers - (pierced several times to allow the spice to infuse)
1 tsp sea salt (or to taste) 
8 tbs Cider/white wine vinegar
4 tbs Sugar 

2 tbs boiling water

method:

  1. get a large bowl and dissolve the sugar into the boiled water
  2. next add all your other ingredients into the bowl and mix well
  3. decant into a sterilised/air tight jar.  I used a Kilner type jar
  4. wait for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse/lightly pickle
  5. serve straight from the jar, or if your are being posh as an accompaniment to other things.  Great with cheese or pâté or as part of a buffet or picnic menu.  
This pickle lasts a couple of days in the fridge, but you will probably finish them before that!  



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Sunday, 11 August 2013

Cornerstone cheese risotto with butternut squash, chorizo and rosemary




Cornerstone cheese risotto with butternut squash, chorizo and rosemary

As part of my #EatDrinkSussex blog series I have been developing some recipes using Sussex cheese supplied by La Cave a Fromage in Hove, East Sussex.  This recipe for Cornerstone cheese risotto with butternut squash, chorizo and rosemary is the next in my series highlighting Sussex food and drink

The Cornerstone cheese is made by a Sussex producer and matured by La Cave a Fromage themselves for a period of 6-8 weeks.  Cornerstone is a soft, creamy cheese with a great aroma.  If you like your cheese with a bit of punch this is it.  The slightly salty and pungent flavour of this cheese works well with the sweetness of the butternut squash and the spiciness of the chorizo. The rosemary adding a herbal, fresh note to cut through the rich risotto.  A tasty and seasonal Summer risotto.  

The key to this risotto dish is the regular stirring which helps release the starches in the rice and produce a beautifully creamy textured risotto.  I hope you give this recipe and Cornerstone cheese a try and let me know how you get on.  Buon Appetito!  


Cornerstone cheese risotto with butternut squash, chorizo and rosemary

recipe author:  Chip butties and noodle soup 

serves 4

preparation time:
10 minutes

cooking time:
30-40 minutes

ingredients:
400g Arborio rice
1200ml stock (chicken or vegetable stock)  
1 onion finely chopped
2 crushed cloves garlic 
1 spring of rosemary - finely chopped
150g Cornerstone cheese
100g chorizo* - chopped
1 butternut squash - chopped into approx. 1cm square dice
2 tbs olive oil
chopped parsley to garnish
salt and pepper

*You can of course leave the chorizo out and have a lovely vegetarian risotto instead :-) 

method:
  1. heat a large saute pan or saucepan then add your olive oil
  2. add your chopped onion, garlic and rosemary and fry for about 5 minutes over a medium heat until softened.
  3. add your chopped butternut squash and chorizo and continue cooking over a medium heat for a few minutes until the squash is lightly caramelized.  
  4. next add your Arborio rice and stir until the rice grains are coated and it absorbs the flavours in the pan - this should take about 2-3 minutes
  5. next add your hot stock - 1 ladleful at a time - stirring after every addition.
  6. repeat until all your stock is absorbed.  The rice should have a nice creamy texture, and still have a bit of 'bite' (al dente). 
  7. take off the heat then crumble and stir in half the Cornerstone cheese.  Check for seasoning.  
  8. plate up and garnish with chopped parsley and the remaining cheese in thin shavings.  Serve immediately.  This would be good served with a simple green salad on the side.  




You can follow La Cave a Fromage on Twitter

#EatDrinkSussex is hosted by chip butties and noodle soup and highlights Sussex food and drink produce.  If you would like to feature on #EatDrinkSussex or have any suggestions please either leave a comment on the blog or contact me via Twitter and I will be in touch.   


Check out my other #EatDrinkSussex recipes:







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Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Brighton Blue Cheese Polenta with Braised Spring Onions and Spinach


Brighton Blue Cheese Polenta with Braised Spring Onions and Spinach



As part of my #EatDrinkSussex series I have been developing some recipes using a selection of Sussex cheeses from La Cave a Fromage in Hove, East Sussex.  The Brighton Blue - a semi-soft cows milk cheese - made by High Weald Dairy was next on my list.  Brighton Blue was a recent winner of a bronze medal at the International Cheese Show in Nantwich, which is not surprising news.  The Brighton Blue is a wonderfully mellow blue cheese, with a touch of saltiness and sharpness.  The piquancy develops as it matures and the blue veins become stronger in colour and flavour over time.  It would be great on its with some crusty bread, or melting on a rare steak however I wanted to incorporate it into a recipe...

So wondering how to showcase the Brighton Blue and not mask it in other conflicting flavours was my main concern.  Inspired by the perfect match that is cheese and onion I came up with this recipe for Brighton Blue Cheese Polenta with Braised Spring Onions and Spinach.  Now cheese and onion is a match you cannot argue with, so I did not want to mess around with the ingredients too much. The resulting dish is one I hope of simple, distinct flavours which I hope you will try and enjoy.

I made my polenta from scratch, stirring away for what seemed like ages to avoid the dreaded 'lumps' that can often be the case.  You can of course use instant polenta (which is part cooked) and therefore cut down your stirring and cooking time (and aching arms!).

The giant spring onions, one of my favourite seasonal vegetables, are simply braised in butter and water and become soft and sweet in the cooking process.  This sweetness contrasts well with the tangy, salty Brighton Blue polenta and the dish is finished off with some wilted spinach and more Brighton Blue crumbled on top of the finished dish.  A grating of lemon zest added to the the dish at the end adds a citrus zing and freshness to cut through the fattiness of the cheese.

A good variation of this recipe if you don't fancy making the polenta would be to serve the braised onions, spinach and Brighton Blue cheese on a big doorstep slice of toasted sourdough - delicious.  I hope you enjoy this recipe and try it out.  Let me know how it goes... 


Brighton Blue Cheese Polenta with Braised Spring Onions and Spinach

serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main course 

preparation time:  5 minutes
cooking time:  40 minutes

ingredients:

150g Brighton Blue Cheese
1 cup polenta (fine cornmeal)
4 cups water
4 large spring onions/salad onions (or 2 regular sized bunches of spring onions)
200g spinach
zest of 1 lemon
20g butter
salt and pepper

method:
  1. preheat the oven to 180C 
  2. place your spring onions in a roasting tin (if using the large spring onions slice in half) and dot with the butter, season with salt and pepper, add an inch or so of water to the pan to help steam the onions.  
  3. place the onions in the oven and leave to cook while you get on with the polenta - this should take about 25-30 minutes 
  4. bring a pan of salted water to the boil then add your polenta in a steady stream whisking all the time to avoid lumps
  5. keep stirring regularly for about 25-30 minutes over a gentle heat until you have a creamy, smooth polenta.  The stirring is what creates the creaminess as it helps release the starches in the cornmeal - and also stops it burning on the bottom of the pan!
  6. when the polenta is done turn off the heat and add half your Brighton Blue cheese and stir it in.
  7. check the polenta for seasoning then leave covered to one side whilst you wilt your spinach in a pan with just a splash of water.
  8. next check your onions are softened and then remove from the oven - now everything should be done and you are ready to plate up 
  9. spoon/pour your polenta onto a large serving platter followed by the spinach and then the spring onions.  
  10. finish the dish with the rest of the Brighton Blue crumbled on top and the grated zest of a lemon - serve immediately.  

Brighton Blue cheese supplied by La Cave a Fromage




You can follow La Cave a Fromage on Twitter

#EatDrinkSussex is hosted by chip butties and noodle soup and highlights Sussex food and drink produce.  If you would like to feature on #EatDrinkSussex or have any suggestions please either leave a comment on the blog or contact me via Twitter and I will be in touch.   


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Sunday, 4 August 2013

Burwash Rose Cheese Salad with Pomegranate, Peach and Chilli


Burwash Rose cheese salad with pomegranate, peach and chilli 

As part of my #EatDrinkSussex series, focusing on Sussex food and drink, I visited La Cave a Fromage.  A beautiful cheese shop and tasting room in Hove, East Sussex.  I was invited to taste a selection of locally produced cheeses and choose a few so I could develop some recipes using this Sussex produce.  It was difficult to choose but eventually I decided on the Burwash Rose, Brighton Blue and Cornerstone.  This salad recipe highlights the Burwash Rose cheese.  My recipes featuring Brighton Blue and Cornerstone will follow on the blog soon.  

Burwash Rose cheese is a semi soft cheese inspired by traditional Trappist cheese making methods, and named after the village Burwash in East Sussex.  It is also the current winner of the ‘best British semi-soft cheese’ at the 2012 British Cheese Awards.  Burwash Rose is produced by The Traditional Cheese Dairy in Stonegate - using raw milk from a closed herd of British Frisian Cows on Lullings Farm in Cuckfield.  

Burwash Rose is washed in rose water for the first two weeks of its affinage (maturing process) which produces a wonderful floral quality on the rind.  When I discovered this I immediately thought of fresh, fruity combinations with a Middle Eastern influence. I did not want to lose the flavour of the cheese so was careful to choose ingredients that worked well and were complementary.  

The pomegranate and peach add a lovely contrast to the sticky, pungent Burwash Rose.  To highlight the fresh, clean taste of the salad I kept the dressing to a simple squeeze of lemon juice and glug of olive oil as I didn't want to distract from the cheese.  The fresh basil complements the fragrant Burwash Rose and the little flecks of red chilli give it a spicy bite which I think is lovely against the ripe, juicy fruit.  

This is a really simple salad to prepare - ready in a few minutes and full of vibrant flavours and textures.  Perfect for a Summer picnic or lunch.  Enjoy! 


I hope you give this recipe a go and let me know what you think.  Your comments are welcomed.  


Burwash Rose Cheese Salad with Pomegranate, Peach and Chilli 

recipe by: chip butties and noodle soup

preparation time:  5-10 minutes

serves 3-4 

ingredients:

225g Burwash Rose Cheese - sliced
seeds of 1 pomegranate 
3 ripe peaches - sliced into segments
150g leaves (I used baby spinach and wild rocket)
1 red onion - sliced
1 small bunch basil chopped
1 red chilli (de-seeded and finely chopped) 
1 lemon 
a few glugs extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper 

method:
  1. get a large bowl and add all the salad ingredients, add the lemon juice and olive oil, salt and pepper to taste then gently toss together
  2. serve on a large platter with a good bread on the side.   



Burwash Rose Cheese was supplied by La Cave a Fromage

You can follow La Cave a Fromage on Twitter

#EatDrinkSussex highlights Sussex food and drink produce.  If you would like to feature on #EatDrinkSussex or have any suggestions please either leave a comment on the blog or contact me via Twitter and I will be in touch.   



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Friday, 2 August 2013

Eggah with broad beans, cavolo nero, potato and mint






My recipe for eggah with broad beans, cavolo nero, potato and mint. Eggah is Middle Eastern egg dish similar to a fritatta or tortilla. The eggah or Persian Kuku is a versatile egg dish that can be either baked or fried. The eggah can also be served hot or cold and is perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. This eggah recipe uses broad beans and cavolo nero as it's main ingredients - beautifully fresh, seasonal ingredients that are in abundance in the shops and markets at the moment.  However don't worry if you can't get hold of the cavolo nero - spring greens or spinach would be equally good here.   

The cavolo nero adds an interesting, almost bitter contrast to the sweetness of the broad beans which works well mixed with the eggs.

The eggah is also a great way of using up any leftover cooked vegetables. I had a few roast potatoes looking lonely in the fridge and this was a tasty way of using them up. Definitely a case of the whole being greater than the sum of it's parts! 

So looking for a quick lunch idea, that used up some lonely roast potatoes I needed some inspiration.  My first port of call was the fabulous Ms Claudia Roden who is at the top of my food hero list. If you haven't already, check out A Book of Middle Eastern Food - a classic that needs to be on everyone's bookshelf in my opinion. 
There is a great section on cooking with eggs and the eggah features heavily - with many interesting and delicious sounding variations.  

This is my take on the traditional Middle Eastern eggah but please feel free to experiment with different flavours and additions to your eggah. Please leave a comment to let me know how you get on and I look forward to sharing more recipes with you soon. 

Eggah with broad beans, cavolo nero, potato and mint

Recipe by: chip butties and noodle soup

preparation time:  10 minutes
cooking time:  20-30 minutes

serves 4

ingredients:  

8 free range eggs
1 cavolo nero (spring greens or spinach would be good too if you can't find cavolo nero)
2 medium sized cooked potatoes 
1 bag of broad beans - about 15-20 pods
2 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

  1. preheat the oven to 190C
  2. grease a roasting dish - I used a rectangular one about 13X10 size 
  3. pod the broad beans then if necessary blanch for 2-3 minutes in boiling water before peeling the skins.
  4. finely chop the cavolo nero and saute in olive oil for a few minutes until softened.  
  5. Chop the potatoes and add with the broad beans to the cavolo nero - season with salt and pepper.
  6. Whisk the eggs then add to the vegetables - mix together then add to your roasting dish. 
  7. Cook for about 20 minutes until set but still a bit wobbly in the centre - it will firm up when you take it out of the oven.
  8. Serve hot or cold - enjoy and let me know how you get on :-) 
  9. NB: you can also cook your eggah in a frying pan like a tortilla or fritatta. 
optional extras:  
  • top with dollops of soft cheese or thick yogurt/labneh.
  • chopped fresh herbs - mint, dill, coriander or parsley would all be great.
  • Few sprinkles of paprika or cumin. 
eggah garnished with soft cheese, mint leaves and a sprinkling of paprika


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